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Coming Home

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Coming Home

by Aklani

The neighborhood was an old one. She had seen her heyday during the time of flappers and speakeasies, gangsters and Gatling guns, when she'd been populated by the elite of Metropolis. When the elite moved, shifting north of the river, she began a long, slow decline. In her current state she was inhabited by the elderly, and poor families seeking to escape the even less respectable areas next door. Now she was sandwiched between the up-scale high-rise apartments and condominiums and one of the worst neighborhoods in Metropolis. Her crime rate escalated. People became afraid.

It all changed in the spring of that year. It coincided with the arrival of a new resident, who moved into a loft apartment, in what had once been a shoe factory back in those more prosperous times. The landlord had been having difficulty renting the loft. It had no view. Its windows looked out onto an alley and the solid brick wall of a neighboring building. Its skylights looked up at a billboard erected in a lot next door where another building had been burned to the ground. Dark and rather gloomy inside, nobody wanted it.

Nobody wanted the loft apartment except someone with something to hide.

Lex smiled as he climbed the stairs. His investigators had done an excellent job. He knew the history of the building from the day of its construction onward. He knew the names and economic status of every single resident, their daily schedules, and who had snuck in a cat despite the no pets policy. Nobody had found it odd that a young up-and-coming reporter had chosen this poor, shabby neighborhood and the run down apartment building, when he could have moved across the river into more extravagant digs. Neither had anyone linked the marked decrease in neighborhood crime with the signing of his lease.

It was Lex, when he was assembling the data his investigators had brought him, who noticed those small coincidences so many others had missed. None of his men, nor anyone else for that matter, had ever seen Superman coming or going from the loft balcony or the skylights, but it hadn't surprised Lex. Clark had too many years of subterfuge under his belt to be caught red handed. He would protect his home at all costs, and that included making sure no prowlers were sneaking around. Word on the street said to avoid the old twenties district - cops were stepping up their rounds there. It was a false rumor, Lex discovered, spread by Clark himself.

Lex Luthor wasn't afraid of rumors, and he wasn't afraid of Superman. He wasn't afraid of being caught lurking around the building either, not with the confidence borne of knowing most of the residents were old people who turned in early and had trouble hearing. They were blissfully unaware that their safety was insured by the guardian angel residing in the loft. To them, Clark was a kind young man, new to the city, and somewhat of a country bumpkin. He helped them out with things when he could, like carrying groceries, running small errands or fixing things when the building super was unavailable. Little did those old people realize there were two "supers" living in their apartment building, one of whom had the ability to fly.

Lex chuckled to himself as he slipped out of the stairwell and into the short hallway on the topmost floor. He hadn't taken the elevator. It would be too conspicuous. Instead, after he'd picked the lock on the security doors out front, he'd made his way to the back stair, and gradually crept up its darkened recesses by the light of a tiny, pen-sized flashlight.

He flipped off the light as he entered the already lighted hallway. There was only one door, hung with a crooked row of digits indicating the apartment number. Lex peered down at the crack of the door and saw no light issuing from within, just as he'd expected. Clark hadn't changed in eight years - he still kept the schedule Lex had come to know. He only slept a few hours a night, between the hours of ten p.m. and one a.m. and then again between four a.m. and six a.m, a schedule which served him well now that he was living two lives. It kept Superman active during times of peak criminal activity, and still allowed him to work full time at the newspaper.

Lex glanced at his watch. It was four-thirty in the morning.

If told Lex Luthor not only knew how to pick locks, but sometimes did do his own dirty work, no one would believe it. The truth of the matter was Lex frequently got bored with sitting around his office waiting for his people to report their successes or failures. Sometimes those failures warranted him going out and taking care of a situation himself. He was not his father's son in that he let others wait on him hand and foot. Lex took pleasure in sometimes getting his own hands dirty.

Not, he thought, as he worked the slender tools into the lock and felt around for the tumblers inside, that this particular situation was dirty. He simply didn't want anyone else involved. This clandestine activity was personal.

The lock clicked. Lex quietly turned the knob and pushed open the door half expecting to be thwarted by a chain. There was no chain. The door opened easily and silently. Lex slipped inside without a hitch, re-closing the door behind him, and stood quietly waiting for his eyes to adjust to the darkness within. It would not do for him to trip over something in the dark.

As he stood there he asked himself, for about the millionth time, what exactly he thought he was doing. Why was he here, possibly risking his life? What could he possibly gain from this?

I just need to see him.

Both the man everyone knew as Clark Kent, and the alien do-gooder Superman, had avoided Lex entirely since they (he) had arrived in Metropolis. Neither one of them was the Clark Kent Lex remembered anyway. He needed to see the "real" Clark, the sweet natured, somewhat naive, farm kid who Lex had come to know during his four year stay in Smallville. Lex wanted to talk to the young man from whom he'd been estranged for eight years, because they had unresolved issues, and the need had taken over Lex's mind. The ache inside needed a salve, and the only salve would be resolution.

Lex figured the only way to meet his Clark, would be to corner him in his own territory, take him off guard, and demand audience. Now that he was here, however, Lex was beginning to question the logic of his decision. Was it logical at all? In reality it seemed to be based simply on some primal and completely irrational need to see Clark again, and to purge himself of the guilt he had built up inside regarding their past. Lex Luthor had, in his lifetime, done a myriad of things for which he should feel guilty, but only those associated with Clark gave him pain.

He suppressed a sigh, and looked around the main room, the living room, of the loft apartment. It was quite spartan compared to his own quarters, and to the little yellow house in Smallville where Clark had been born and raised. There was a sofa, and a chair, and on a table before them, a small television. Across the room was a computer desk, upon which sat a brand new machine. Flanking the desk were two bookshelves packed with books and magazines. There were a few odd lumpy shapes among the books which indicated knick-knacks or some sort of collectibles; Lex couldn't see them clearly in the dark.

Neither could he see the details of the pictures and posters hung on the walls. Taking a risk, Lex flicked on his pen-light again, and pointed it toward the bookcases. The dark lumpy shapes were pieces of artwork - sculpture and pottery - which appeared aboriginal in nature, and not just Native American but pieces from cultures all over the world. There was nothing large, nor, Lex realized from his own collecting, anything particularly valuable. Their value was known only to their owner.

On the wall above the desk were framed copies of Clark's degrees, and a picture of himself as a child with Jonathan and Martha Kent playing smiling bookends to either side of him. The posters made Lex smile. There were three in a row, hanging on the walls around two sets of narrow French doors leading out onto the balcony. They were old posters from science fiction movies. Clark's quirky sense of humor showed in his choices: Plan 9 From Outer Space, War of the Worlds, and Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Lex turned off the pen-light as he moved into the kitchen, which was extraordinarily clean. Out of curiosity he stopped at the refrigerator and peeked inside. There was a half a bottle of milk (expired), a pizza box (empty), and a quarter of a roll of chocolate chip cookie dough, but nothing else. It was interesting to note single male aliens ate exactly like single male humans, unless one was Lex Luthor, who let his cooks take care of feeding him. The only thing missing was the beer. There was instead, coffee, sitting ready in a coffee maker set to start brewing at a quarter to six a.m.

Off the kitchen was a small bathroom with an old claw foot tub equipped with a shower attachment, and just beyond was an archway leading into the bedroom. Lex hesitated there, closing his eyes and wondering if he should continue. He was on the verge of turning around when he felt himself step forward into the room, drawn almost involuntarily towards the bed. As soon as his foot hit the big area rug laid out upon the wooden floor he stopped, opened his eyes, and looked around, avoiding the figure in the bed - for now.

The bedroom windows faced the empty lot, and the light from the billboard shone down through them, illuminating the room in shades of silver and blue. Just as spartan as the living room, the bedroom was composed mainly of bed, which was king sized and nearly as big as the room itself, and a dresser, upon which sat several pillar candles in varying sizes. A small bedside table sat at one side of the bed. It held a lamp, a phone, Clark's wallet, and the clunky glasses he affected during "Clark Kent" hours.

Lex finally looked at the bed and his stomach did a slow queasy roll.

Clark was sprawled face down across the bed, covered with a plain cotton sheet from the waist down. Lex could see only the slightest bit of his face over one bare shoulder. The rest of it was buried in a pillow wadded up in the crook of the opposite elbow and obscured by the fall of his hair. He was wearing his hair a little longer than Lex remembered.

Closing his eyes tightly, Lex curled his fingers into his palms, pressing hard to keep himself silent. Torn between waking Clark for what Lex considered a long overdue and necessary confrontation, and simply turning around and forgetting he ever existed, Lex stood motionless at the foot of the bed. It was some time before he opened his eyes again. Old memories, both painful and pleasant, washed over him just as the light from the window washed over Clark's skin. The light tinted him somewhat blue, as if he were wearing the costume of Superman.

"So, are you just going to stand there?"

Lex flinched at the sound of his voice. For a moment he wasn't sure he'd heard it, until the body shifted beneath the sheet and Clark raised his head to look back over his shoulder.

"I heard you pick the lock. Since when have you taken up cat burglary?"

"About the same time you started flying." Lex replied quietly.

The quiet rustle of cotton against skin marked Clark's movements in the dark as he reached over to turn on the lamp. Its stark white bulb drove away the blue tinted light from outside and temporarily blinded Lex, who raised a hand to shield his eyes until they adjusted. When they did he opened them to find Clark sitting cross-legged in the bed, his back pressed against the headboard, and the sheet pulled up around his waist. Lex realized somewhat uncomfortably that beneath the sheet, Clark was nude.

It was hard to equate the naive kid he'd known in Smallville with the young man sitting in front of him. That Clark wouldn't have dreamed of sleeping nude, and in fact, had never done so as far as Lex knew. It had been a source of entertainment for Lex, who had teased him about his modesty. Clark had easily blushed back then too, and seemed always hesitant to meet Lex's eyes directly. That Clark wouldn't be looking at him like he was now, studying him carefully as if trying to discern his thoughts through body language alone. Something in Clark's eyes had changed. Something in his very being had changed. He looked at Lex through the eyes of a much older and much more experienced individual. Clark had seen more than a man his age should have seen, and felt more pain than a dozen men might feel in a lifetime.

"Why are you here? To drive a stake through my heart while I slept? Death to the alien invader?"

Lex ignored his sarcasm. "Why didn't you just tell me the fucking truth, Clark?"

Clark was the one wielding the stake. "Because you're Lionel Luthor's son."

"I haven't betrayed you now. I wouldn't have then."

"Then I didn't know you were the one that ordered the hit, Lex." His voice was soft, and uninflected, but Clark's eyes were as cold as arctic ice, and so was his expression. "Expose me, and you expose yourself. You'll lose everything, and you've known that too haven't you? What did I have then to prevent you from selling me to the highest bidder? Nothing. I had nothing."

Lex's jaw clenched.

Clark stared at him a moment longer, then glanced away. "Why are you here?" he repeated.

"You've ignored my calls."

"Yes I have."


The sharp hazel eyes rose again, stabbing Lex with their beauty. Over the years the memory of Clark's eyes had been one of many things which had stood out prominently in Lex's mind. It had shocked him, upon seeing a photograph, that Superman's eyes were blue, and without the aid of contact lenses. If Lex hadn't known Clark as intimately as he did, he himself might never had put two and two together. The differences were subtle, but poignant.

"Very simple, I didn't want to talk to you, but as you've broken into my home and are insisting on bothering me, I guess I have no choice in the matter."

Lex smirked. "You could always throw me out the window."

"I am not a murderer."

The words sliced into his heart like razors into flesh, not only reopening old wounds, but creating new ones. To hear Clark say it aloud hurt worse than he'd imagined. He fell back to his only defense, the rationalization he'd fed himself for years after Lionel's death, and to which he clung like a life raft.

"It was self defense. He was destroying me, Clark."

"I've seen the forensic photos." Clark said quietly. "He was gunned down like a rabid dog, Lex. There wasn't much left when they were finished. Nobody deserves that kind of death, not even Lionel Luthor."

"We've been down this road before." Lex whispered. "I don't have to justify myself to you." He snorted softly. "I always warned you about the messiah complex. I don't need you to save my soul. You aren't God, Clark."

A muscle twitched in Clark's cheek. It was the barest of flinches but it told Lex he'd hit a sore spot. The green eyes narrowed.

"What about Lucas?"

"What about him? I haven't seen hide nor hair of the little bastard since the funeral."

"He's in Berlin."

It was Lex's turn to flinch, as if instead of words they were exchanging blows.

"How do you know?"

Clark's shoulders rolled in a shrug. He leaned back further against the headboard. "I saw him, last year, before I came back to the States."

"You sleep with him?" Lex spat.


It brought Lex up short, jerking him back as if he were a dog that had run out to the end of its leash. He would have never expected Clark to answer such a question in the first place, let alone answer it with a "yes." It took him a moment to recover, during which Clark sat watching him carefully.

"I didn't know Lucas slept with men," he said finally.

"As a rule, he doesn't. He took some convincing." Beneath the sheet Clark raised his legs, and wrapped his arms around his knees. "I think he did it mainly to get back at you. I'm surprised you didn't already know about it."

"You're a whore, Clark." Lex whispered.

"Who's fault is that, Lex? You're the one who taught me the value of a blow job."

"And what did he give you in return?"

"Besides a good fuck?" One corner of Clark's mouth quirked in a half smile. "A lot of interesting information about LexCorp. and your dirtier dealings. Gave me some names of people who might have more information too. Funny, when someone, someone being your accountant, is being held over the edge of a tall building, they tend to tell you anything you want to know."

Lex had wondered what had made his CPA suddenly drop LexCorp. as a client without explaining why. He scowled. It had been difficult to find another shady accountant after Phil left too.

"Is Lucas still in Berlin?"

"Might be, who knows."

"Where is he?"

Clark sat up straighter, resting his arms across the tops of his knees. "Even if I knew, which I don't, I wouldn't tell you."

"He's my brother, Clark. I'd like to know where he is."

"Why? So you can call the hit men down on him too?"

"That's fucking cruel, Clark. I wouldn't...."

"He thinks you would. Why would he think such a thing if there weren't a grain of truth in it?" He changed course abruptly. "You still haven't answered my question, by the way."

Lex's scowl deepened. "What question?"

"Why did you feel the need to break into my apartment and accost me? Don't tell me it's because I wouldn't return your calls, because you should have a reason for calling me in the first place. What do you want, Lex?"

He glanced away, towards the empty lot outside the window. He assumed there was a fire escape. Perhaps he should just leave.

"I want this to end," he murmured.

"This what?" Clark demanded.

"This!" Lex pushed the heel of his hand against his forehead, trying to push away the headache beginning to form behind his eyes. "Whatever we're doing right now. Yes, I made mistakes, I admit it. There's blood on my hands and rotten spot in my soul, but...."

There was a long silence.

"But what?"

"I want you back, Clark, please."

Lex wasn't sure what sort of reaction he expected, whether he thought Clark was going to laugh at him, get angry with him, or suddenly break down and say, "I want that too." What he got was silence, and an expression so cold and so still it was as if Clark had suddenly turned to stone.

"I know you blame me for everything...."

"You took our farm, Lex."

"I had no choice." Lex closed his eyes. They'd been down this road before too, wherein Clark refused to listen to him. It had been Lionel who had forced Lex into foreclosing on the Kent Farm after Lionel found out he'd been fooling around with Clark for three years.

"You left us destitute. Do you know what it cost for Jonathan Kent to go begging from his father-in-law? His life, Lex. It cost him his life."

Jonathan Kent, not "Dad."

It struck Lex then that the Clark he'd known was gone. The man he stood before now was some strange amalgam of that person and the alien the world knew as Superman. Hardship, pain, and the accumulation of knowledge had destroyed the quiet teen Lex once knew so well. The new Clark was cold, calculating, and somewhat cruel.

But he still seemed to know what Lex was thinking.

"We both were tricked by destiny, Lex. We were tricked into thinking we could change our very natures, and avoid the paths our fathers' wanted us to take."


"Wasn't my father." Clark said sharply, almost angrily. He turned his head, glancing away from Lex momentarily, and his voice softened. "I wasn't even there when he had the heart attack. I was away saving someone else's life. I might have been able to save his had I been there."

"It's doubtful, Clark. Not from what I understand. He had high blood pressure for years."

Clark chuckled softly, but with little humor. "Yeah, from stress. He started dying the day he plucked an alien brat out of the Kansas mud and took him home." He returned his gaze to Lex. The old Clark might have shed a tear or two. This one didn't. "You became Lionel," he whispered. "I stopped being human."

"I don't believe that." Lex stated.

There was no reply.

Lex shifted his weight and crossed his arms over his chest, regarding Clark with a cool expression of his own. "It's my turn for a question," he said. "Exactly why haven't you wanted to talk to me?"

"Because it's futile. You said yourself, we've been down this same road before. There's nothing left between us, Lex. It's over. It's been over."

"I don't believe that either."

"Still in love with me?" Clark challenged.

Lex replied without hesitation. "Yes."

"You're pathetic. What did you think you were going to do here tonight? Molest me in my sleep?"

"Do you think," Lex replied angrily. "I'd be standing here putting up with your abuse if I didn't care for you? I wouldn't have bothered then, and I sure as hell wouldn't have bothered now. I don't deserve this from you, Clark...."

"Oh, you don't?"

"No, damnit, I don't. My father knew everything about you. Were you aware of that? If he were still alive today, you'd be dead now. He would have eliminated you the minute your spandex clad ass set foot in his city. He had Kryptonite stashed in more than one form in more than place and he could have dropped you out of the sky into a grave any time he desired."

"And so now, can you. Is this blackmail, Lex?"

"I'm on your side, Clark! Don't you understand that? Why are you doing this to me?"

"Because I can."

The words sent a chill up Lex's spine. He stared at Clark in silence for a long time, searching the green-gold of his eyes for any sign of the person he'd once known. There was nothing of him left, as far as Lex could see, and the realization of it made his guts twist up into knots inside him.

"Who are you?" he asked flatly.

"Truth." Clark replied. "The truth you were seeking before, when you dogged my every move and doubted my every word. This is what you were looking for, Lex, and aren't you glad you never found it? Be thankful with what you had of me. You'll never have it again."

Lex opened his mouth, and for one of the very few times in his life, he was rendered speechless. He'd come looking for relief to his pain, and instead Clark had thrown salt on his wounds and ground it in deep.

Without a word, he turned his back and headed toward the door.


Only half turning, Lex glanced back over his shoulder. Clark's expression was perfectly neutral, as was the tone of his voice, but the words were vicious.

"Jonathan Kent protected me for fifteen years without resorting to murder."

Lex turned away from him, and slammed the bedroom door shut as he exited.

"So what's he like?" Lex asked quietly. "Your partner."

Lois didn't look up from the menu she was perusing. "Not your type." She stabbed at an item with one red painted nail and asked. "Have you ever had the fish here?"

"No. What do you mean 'not your type,' Lois?"

She set down the menu and ran her fingers through her hair in a gesture he knew all too well. Lois had a habit of always making some sort of gesture or comment before answering questions. It gave her time to carefully select her words. Lex wondered if it were some sort of journalist thing. A lot of them, he'd noticed, did the same thing.

"Exactly that. He's a bit - bland - for you." She snorted. "Probably still a virgin."

"I just asked what he was like, not for you to fix me up with him."

Lois smiled prettily when the waitress came up to their table. They were the only ones in the room; a private room in one of Metropolis' best restaurants. She didn't order the fish. Lex had nothing but a glass of wine.

"Early for that."

Lex ignored her.

"I'd heard rumors you lived on a diet of work and alcohol these days, Lex. I was surprised when you called me for lunch. We haven't had lunch for ages."

He shrugged. "I've missed our exchanges."


"Ah, well I'm known for that."

"I'm not sleeping with you."

Irritated, Lex downed the wine in his glass and poured another. He was drinking more than usual lately. As much as he'd tried to avoid it in the weeks since his rather precipitous (and stupid) visit to Clark, he still couldn't keep his mind off of him. The situation was made more difficult by Superman's media presence. Print, electronic, and television news was saturated with stories and speculation regarding the Earth's pet alien and his exploits. It made Lex ill.

Superman was also still causing Lex a great deal of trouble professionally as he continued to dig up and condemn some of LexCorp.'s more underhanded dealings. Lex was constantly having to shell out money for cover-ups and escape plans. He made a couple half hearted attempts to have Clark killed, which of course failed miserably, and when Lex woke after such an event to see his smug face plastered all over the front page of the Daily Planet....

Alcohol was a balm for his ache.

"I didn't ask you out for lunch to seduce you, Lois. I know better."

Digging around in her purse, Lois produced a small, thin cigarette. It was one manufactured by one of Lex's own companies. It had all the flavor of the real thing, but none of the harmful side effects, and LexCorp. owned the patent. That particular little scientific development had made Lex an insane amount of money.

She lit it from the candle in the center of their table and took a long draw. "Sex with you," she said casually, gesturing with the cigarette as she blew out a thin stream of smoke. "Was less than satisfactory."

Lex flushed. "So you've said, repeatedly."

Lois smiled broadly and took another drag of her cigarette. "I like you when you're pissed off, Lex. It gives me great pleasure to know I can still get under your skin. Still haven't found what sets off Bland Boy, but I'm working on it."


"Bland. Farm raised bookworm."


Shrugging, Lois blew a smoke ring. "If he is, he's suffering from a great deal of denial. Probably because the good ol' boys back there in Smellville probably make being gay punishable by dismemberment."

"It's Smallville." Lex said quietly.

There was a long pause, during which Lois looked at him carefully. She leaned forward and snubbed out her cigarette in the ashtray, narrowing her smoky-blue eyes.

"That's right, I remember you telling me you lived there for a short time. Quaint. Never pictured you as the Green Acres type, Lex." She smiled. "So did you know my boy Clark Kent back there in Smalltown?"

"No," he said, leveling his gaze at her. "I'd never heard of him until recently."

It was funny, Lex thought, that all the half-truths and careful hedging he'd done in the past, had evolved into a marked ability to lie without hesitation. He supposed the last of his scruples died with his father, and were buried when Clark left him. Lex wanted them back. He wanted Clark back.

Clark had verbally beaten him and thrown him to the wolves. So much for lovers and scruples.

He shifted his gaze away from Lois'. She knew him well enough to know he was lying, but she also knew there were times when it was best not to push him.

"Where did you find him anyway?" he asked finally.

"He just showed up on Perry's doorstep with letters of recommendation from editors of some of the biggest news organizations in the world." Lois shrugged. "Including a glowing review from my cousin."

Chloe. Figured.

"And how is Ms. Sullivan faring as head of the Gotham Daily Journal?"

"Thriving. Seems Gotham has its own spandex clad vigilante these days. Not quite as over the top as ours, but giving the press a run for their money. Chloe dubbed him The Dark Knight." Lois hooked her fingers into quotation marks. "A pretty moniker to be sure, but the general populace calls him Bat-Man and the name seems to have stuck."

"Jesus. They're coming out of the woodwork. This guy an alien too?"

"Nah, just some martial artist with a bunch of toys and a suped-up hotrod." Raising an eyebrow, Lois pointed at him. "Now there's your type, Lex. Dark, mysterious, somewhat S to your M...."

"Don't," he growled.

"What?" Her grin was as feral as his scowl.

Both faded as the waitress brought them their food. Lex requested another bottle of wine - just in case.

Lois stabbed a tomato out of her salad. "So. If you don't want to bed me or my boring new babysitting project, why am I here? Don't try to tell me you missed our conversations again, Lex because I am not believing that shit for a minute."

"I need your expertise, off the record." Lex leaned back in his chair, swirling the wine in his glass. "I want you to do some investigating for me."

"Don't you have lackeys to do that for you?" Lois asked archly. "Why me?"

"Because my so called lackeys have failed to produce, and you're the best investigative reporter in the country."

"I'm flattered."

"Don't be, Lois. It's a well known fact."

She regarded him carefully. "And it's off the record? What keeps me from saying 'to hell with that' and smearing your name all over the media?"

"A great deal of money, and someone else's name to smear all over the media." Lex set his glass down and bent to pull a plastic binder out of his briefcase. He set it down in the center of the table.

Lois put down her fork and reached for the file. Inside was a computer disk, and hard copies of several items to be found on said disk, including photographs and a copy of telephone transcripts. Lex finished his wine as he watched her eyes flit back and forth over the material. She looked up at him abruptly.

"This is all from verifiable sources?"

"Absolutely, and their names are all on the disk. You can check them out yourself."

"They've been trying to find the source of the latest security leak for years, Lex! This could get me a Pulitzer. Representative Simpson? Holy shit!"

"Who would ever suspect a mild mannered conservative from Missouri? The man has been selling secrets since he started in politics. He's as crooked as they come." He paused, and his voice lowered. "So do you want my job or not?"

Still reading the file, it took her a moment to answer. When she did, her eyes narrowed slightly and he noticed with some satisfaction that her hands were trembling. He'd given her a gold mine. Now she was wondering what nasty thing he'd cooked up to ask for in return.

"That depends on what it is. I'm not breaking any laws for you."

"I wouldn't ask you to."

"What do you want?"

Lex inhaled deeply. "I want you to find my brother."

Lois scowled. "I thought your brother was dead?"

"My full brother is dead, my half brother, Lionel's bastard, is alive and well somewhere and I want him found." Lex retrieved another binder from his case. It was much thicker than the first. "This is everything I have on him to date. My people lost him in Switzerland. He was reportedly in Berlin recently but I doubt he's there now."

Lois put aside Simpson's file and flipped open Lucas'. She looked at the photographs. The one of Lucas at Lionel's funeral was one Lex did not particularly like. The kid had grown his hair and sported a neatly trimmed beard and mustache. Lex found the resemblance to Lionel a little too close for comfort. He'd wondered at the time if Lucas hadn't done it on purpose. It was a likely scenario.

"Nobody is to know what you're doing Lois, or that I'm the one having you doing it. Not Perry, not Chloe, and not your farmboy partner."

Especially not the farmboy.

"Sounds fair enough. What if I don't find him?"

Lex shrugged. "I have faith in you. But I'll tell you right now, if you don't show me you're making some sort of an effort toward the task, I will tip off Simpson and help him cover his tracks. Bye-bye Pulitzer. Got it?"

"Got it."

He rose, and tucked the second, unopened bottle of wine under his arm, after refilling his glass with the last of the first. Downing it, he concluded their business. "Good, as long as we understand each other. I'm leaving the briefcase. I'd suggest you take good care of it. There's twenty thousand dollars inside." He paused as he passed, clapping her on the shoulder. "Buy yourself something nice."

Lex looked out over the cityscape through the glass doors leading out onto the balcony. Miles of glittering light sparkled like fireflies in the dark, rising and falling in the hills and valleys of skyscrapers and streets. The river glistened in the moonlight far off in the distance. Had the doors been open, Lex would have heard the "hush" of cars speeding through on the highway that twisted through the center of the city, the horns of vehicles trying to negotiate the streets below, and the low moan of a boat whistle on the river.

Metropolis was his city. It was where he was born. It was where he belonged. Yet since Clark had come back Lex often found himself thinking of Smallville, where real fireflies danced in the dark forests of corn and the only sounds were the lowing of cattle, the barking of the occasional coyote, and the soft wind rustling in the trees. The stench of oil and exhaust, the metallic taste of the air, didn't exist in Smallville. The air was fresher there. Sometimes Lex missed it.

He raised his arm. The glass of scotch he held was almost empty. So was the bottle sitting on the table beside his chair. He'd have to send for more, not that he needed it. He'd been drinking steadily all day, ever since Lois reported her task complete.

Lucas was in Metropolis, right under Lex's nose, and had been for some time.

Lex drank the rest of the scotch in his glass. "You lied to me, Clark, you bastard. You lied to me."

Why? To hide the fact he was still letting Lucas fuck him?

Lex's fingers tightened around the glass. He put it down before he broke it. Turning his gaze away from the view outside, he watched as his companion strode out of the darkness toward him. He titled his head slightly, smiling his approval as he admired what his friend Rick had chosen to send. Rick pimped only the best, and this was no exception.

"Young." Lex had told him. "Young but legal. Tall, brunette, light eyes."

It had pissed Lex off when Rick said, "Ah, popular type these days. Everyone wants to fuck Superman."

It had been on the tip of Lex's tongue to say he had fucked Superman, back before Superman was Superman, but he resisted the temptation. Instead he'd forced a laugh and said that was not his intent. It was, of course, a lie, but only mildly. Lex didn't want Superman. He wanted Clark.

Denny, as he called himself, wasn't Clark by any means. The resemblance was slight. Denny was much "prettier" than Clark, very feminine, with dull, gray eyes, and dark auburn hair worn long. If he was legal, it was by the barest of margins. Lex was drunk enough not to care. His eyes crawled hungrily over the boy's nude body. It was lean, but not nearly as muscular like Clark's, and his skin was deeply tanned. Clark's skin was a creamier color, like a pale caramel.

Smiling slightly, Denny sank to his knees between Lex's parted legs, his long fingers working at Lex's belt. He said nothing as Lex had requested. When he'd arrived and first spoken Lex had been turned off by the sound of his voice. It was low, and held a trace of a foreign accent, far opposite from Clark's tenor and its mid-western twang, and not what Lex wanted to hear. Lex declared that their business would be conducted without conversation. Denny was there to serve. He had no objections.

Lex leaned his head back and closed his eyes. One hand toyed with Denny's hair. He remembered Clark's hair from the other night; the way it curled in lose dark waves around his shoulders, how the chestnut highlights gave it depth and texture. It had always been soft and thick, but tamed in a conservative cut. Left to its own devices it was even more beautiful. Denny's hair was straight, its texture thin, different.

The sucked cock the same way, and that made Lex chuckle to himself. Clark was as talented as a professional whore, and always had been. Teaching him the fundamentals of sex (though Lex suspected someone had been there before him) had been extremely interesting, not to mention pleasurable. Clark learned quickly, and aside from anything terribly risky, was fairly accepting of Lex's kinks. He didn't have many. His reputation was highly exaggerated.

He moaned a little as Denny's tongue swirled slowly around the head of his cock and probed delicately at the slit in a series of tiny thrusts. Clark hadn't done that before. Lex opened his eyes slightly and glanced down as Denny's mouth encompassed his length. Long hair brushed his thighs as Denny worked him.

Lex bit his lip. Probably the closest he and Clark had come to doing anything really "dangerous" was the time they'd had sex outdoors. It had been late summer, and the corn was well over their heads. Lex had driven into the middle of the Kents' biggest field and parked the car where it could not be seen. Sprawled across the hood of the car, staring up into the hot summer sun with sweat dripping down his face, he'd gotten the best ride of his life. It would have been fantastic tabloid fodder had someone flown over and discovered Lex Luthor being fucked up the ass by the farmer's kid in the middle of a cornfield. Lex had made up fake headlines for the story afterward, and Clark had been spastic with giggles.

Clark was the only one Lex had ever allowed inside him, ever. Clark was the only one he trusted. He had to wonder if he would now, should Clark even agree to sleep with him again, because Lex wasn't sure he trusted this new Clark. He wasn't sure Superman could be trusted. Lex wasn't sure he wanted a man who could break through concrete and bend steel to fuck him. No wonder Clark had kept his secret hidden. Lex felt a little pang of sorrow.

Denny withdrew. If it weren't for the fact Lex felt hornier than hell he'd probably fall asleep, because he was also drunker than hell. The last time he'd been so drunk was the night his father was killed. He'd gone out partying to establish an alibi, and between the drugs and the alcohol, he'd wound up passing out on the dance floor of some club. If the woman he'd been with at the time hadn't had a shred of compassion in her, he'd probably have wound up in some serious trouble. As it was the god-awful sickness that dogged him for over a week afterward was a reminder of why he'd given up certain bad habits.

He was going to have a killer hangover in the morning, he thought, as Denny tore open a condom, and thank God he'd hired someone instead of calling an old standby girlfriend. (Or, heaven forbid, gotten Lois.) Denny had to earn his money. Lex could just sit back and enjoy it. He opened his mouth obediently when Denny rose up to kiss him. Like Lois, Denny smoked the new cigarettes. Even a breath mint couldn't disguise the flavor of their odd taste. A talented kisser, Denny made up for the bad taste in his mouth and Lex was quite pleased with him.

"Hmmm. Nice."


"Yeah." Lex murmured, and accepted another long, languid kiss as Denny went down on him. He braced his hands on the slender hips and followed the curve of Denny's ass down to where they were connected.

Denny was thinner and lighter than Clark, and by virtue of his profession, not as tight. Denny was like a penny, common, well worn. Clark was a collectible gold coin, hard to come by, and rarely taken out for display. There was no way even closed eyes could compensate for the differences there, not when Lex's cock had tasted gold. The ache in his chest he'd tried so hard to drown with alcohol returned. Denny braced his hands on the arms of Lex's chair and rode him hard, but the pleasure was not enough to overcome the pain of rejection.

Lex moved his hips, thrusting up hard when Denny came down on him, driving himself deep when the boy ground against him. Liquid slapping and Denny's low, guttural moans were the only sounds, and Lex had no idea what made him open his eyes and turn toward the balcony doors. Perhaps it was some sixth sense one of them possessed, some alien radar, Lex didn't know. He felt the urge to look so he did.

It was like a vision from a nightmare, a bright clad vampire waiting for admittance. Superman hovered just off the edge of Lex's balcony, arms folded over the shield upon his chest, cloak swirling around his body like a living thing. His gaze was locked not on Lex, but on Denny, watching as the boy threw back his head and shifted his position slightly, stroking Lex's cock, squeezing it inside him as he jacked himself off in time. Clark's eyes smoldered with suppressed fury, and his cold, beautiful expression was nothing short of exquisite. The sight of him made Lex come.

He grunted, his fingers digging into the arm of the chair as his body bucked up against Denny's, but he never took his eyes off the figure poised there against the night sky, framed by the lights of the city. Superman touched down on the balcony and had Lex not been in the throes of climax he would have shoved Denny off into the floor when the door was slid back.

Denny heard the sound and turned to look. "Holy shit!"

It was almost comical, Lex had to admit later. His rent boy tumbled backwards off of him and hit the floor ass first, scrambling backward as Clark advanced on him. Denny scuttled across the floor like a skinny crab, his eyes wide and filled with sheer terror, until his back struck Lex's sofa and he could go no further. What he thought Clark was going to do to him was a mystery. Lex watched with interest.

"Get out." Superman growled.

Denny fled, snatching up his clothes as he went, hastily pulling on his pants as he ducked into the penthouse elevator. Lex removed the spent condom, tied it off, and dropped it beside his chair for later disposal. He was just zipping up his pants and reaching for the scotch again when Clark turned back around. The cloak swirled around his ankles as he stalked toward Lex's chair and Lex was reminded rather uncomfortably of Darth Vader. For the briefest second he thought Clark was going to kill him. It was difficult to keep his hands from shaking as he poured himself a drink.

"I wasn't done with him. I paid for another hour."

Clark's head rose like a startled horse, his nostrils flaring. "You're drunk."

"No? God, Clark, you're such a genius." Lex saluted him with his glass and tossed back its contents. "What gives you the fucking right to come in here like this?"

"Prostitution isn't legal in Kansas."

"Fuck you."

"Sorry, you're out of luck."

Lex threw the glass at him, and he batted it away, pulverizing the glass into a cloud of sparkling dust. Lex blinked at it stupidly. He was most definitely beyond tipsy and well into shit-faced. Focusing took monumental effort.

He narrowed his eyes. "You a little jealous, Clark?"

"I told you. Prostitution is illegal in Kansas. I should haul both of you in to the authorities."

"You're a prick, Clark. You know that? You're a big fucking prick in a giant blue condom." Lex leaned back in his chair and started laughing. "Condom-Man!" He made a flying motion with his hand. "Shhhwwwsh. Saving the world from the evils of prostitution, conveniently forgetting he was a once a cock-sucker himself."

Clark moved so fast Lex couldn't track him, and before he realized what was happening he found himself being yanked up out of his chair by the front of his shirt. The sudden motion made him dizzy and his stomach churned in protest. He almost threw up in Clark's face, which he found inches from his own when his vision steadied. His feet dangled six inches off the floor.

"Shut your damn mouth, Lex."

"Are you threatening me?"

"I'm warning you. I came here to warn you. Call Lois off. You're going to get her killed."

Lex put on what he hoped was a neutral expression. "I don't know what you're talking about."

Clark gave him a shake, and dropped him back into the chair. "Don't lie to me!" he roared.

Over the years they were together Lex came to understand that he and Clark were very similar when it came to temperment. Shouting back during an argument never accomplished anything, but taking a quieter approached tended to subdue the situation and permit a more civil discourse.

"You lied to me." Lex said quietly, levering himself up in his chair and facing Clark's temper head on. "How long have you known Lucas was in Metropolis?"

Clark's expression went slack. "What?"

"How long...."

"I heard you." Clark interrupted. "I didn't know Lucas was in Metropolis. Who told you this?"

"Lois. See, you're too late, Clark. She already let the cat out of the bag." He spread his hands. "And what's this? She's alive and well? You're fucking paranoid."

Clark said nothing, but stood there breathing rather heavily, as if he were fighting to hold back another angry outburst. His eyes were a disturbing shade of ice-blue, like a glacier, very different from the rich green-gold they were naturally. Lex's mind wandered off on a tangent as he wondered how Clark was able to lighten his eyes and make his hair go dark. His hair was shorter too, slicked back in a severe style that made his face look sharp and dangerous.


"Have you talked to him?"

"No. I just found out today." Lex said. "I decided to celebrate a little." He motioned to the scotch. "And you chased off my pretty boy. Jealous much?" Lex seethed, rising unsteadily to his feet. "Why don't you just go have Lucas fuck you? I don't believe you didn't know he was here. I think you're sucking his cock for him like the whore you are. How about I leak that little bit of info to Lois? Eh?"

Clark was a hairs breadth away from hitting him. Both fists clenched, and so did his jaw. Lex wondered if he dared. If Clark did hit him in anger, Lex didn't believe either one of them would survive it.

"If I exposed you to the world, Clark, and told them all not only Superman's secret identity, but that you and I were once lovers, what would you do? Would you kill me?"

They stared at each other. Lex wavered, holding back another bout of nausea, nearly falling back into his chair.

"No," Clark said softly, and before Lex could relax, he added. "If I for a second believed you would be that stupid, I'd kill you before it got that far."

Lex caught his breath, his mouth falling open. "You're serious," he breathed.

"Don't force me to make that choice, Lex." Superman said, raising a hand to point at him. "I don't want to catch you using Lois again, and stay the hell away from Lucas if you know what's good for you."

He vanished in the blink of an eye, out the doors and over the balcony before Lex could even track his movements. He saw only a faint, red blur across the sky, and then nothing.

Lex collapsed to his hands and knees on the floor, and vomited for what seemed like an hour.

With both Clark and Lucas in Metropolis, Lex retreated to Europe. He followed what was going on via several of what Lois referred to as his "lackeys" and the on-line edition of the Daily Planet. Lois was busy ruining the career of Representative Simpson, exposing him not only as a spy, but as a sexual predator as well, something which surprised Lex. That little tidbit hadn't been in the file. It seems part of his payment for slipping government secrets to foreign countries was in the slave trade. He had several little Asian girls he kept locked up as playthings. Lex liked them young, but definitely not that young. One of them was twelve.

"Pervert," he growled, reading the story, then raised a brow along with his coffee cup. Clark had dug up that particular information. The byline on the story was his, not Lois'.

Lex sipped his coffee. He was still miffed at Clark for another incident revealed to him by his lackeys in Metropolis. Lex had, against Clark's warnings, enlisted a couple of his security experts to keep an eye on Lucas. After a week both of them vanished, only to reappear later in the morgue at Metropolis General with their necks broken. Lex normally would have had a hard time believing Clark would do such a thing. He had never, to Lex's knowledge, killed anyone before, but after his threats Lex wasn't so sure he wouldn't resort to killing, especially if he wanted to send Lex a warning.

He continued to read the paper, silently fuming about the loss of his men, and trying to decide if he should call room service for some breakfast. Damn Clark anyway. What went on between he and Lucas was his business, not Clark's, and if Clark were still sleeping with Lex's little half-brother....

Lex ground his teeth at the thought and clicked to the last page of headlines.

~~~ Rare space rock stolen from Star Labs facility. ~~~

Frowning, Lex pulled up the article.

"A meteorite fragment, one of many that once littered the countryside following the cataclysmic meteor shower of 1989 in Smallville, Kansas, was stolen yesterday from Star Labs' Metropolis facility. Over the years such specimens have become quite rare. This particular meteorite was the first of it's kind found in Lowell county for at least five years. The administrators at Star Labs have stated that the rarity of the once easily found meteorites makes them a favorite target for collectors and other researchers, but have no clues as to who would have taken their sample."

Lex's frown deepened.

Smallville's meteor-rocks, which Clark, Lex, and only a handful of others knew as Kryptonite, were rare because Lionel Luthor had gathered up the majority of them for his cloning experiments. Much of the refined Kryptonite had been destroyed, either by Lionel's scientists as they experimented with it, or (Lex suspected) Clark. Lex had read Lionel's files on Clark and knew not only that the Kryptonite was of the same outer-space origin as Clark, but that the radiation from the stuff made Clark violently ill. Thus during Clark's years in Europe Lex had continued to gather up the stuff and lock it away in secret underground vaults lined with lead.

Lex did it for two reasons. One was because he still cared a great deal about Clark and didn't want to take any chances with someone else finding out his weakness. The other reason was that if Clark ever became dangerous, Lex would have some way of protecting himself and possibly others. In recent weeks that second reason had come to the forefront because Clark had proven to be somewhat twitchy since he returned to Metropolis, and Lex didn't trust him anymore.

It was possible Clark had stolen the Kryptonite himself, or had someone do it for him, but somehow Lex wasn't convinced. There were a few other places that had samples of the meteorites, some of them having the stuff on public display. If he were that concerned about Kryptonite in Metropolis he would have disposed of the other fragments as well as the large piece in Star Labs' possession.

Someone else stole the Star Labs' meteorite, someone with not so good intentions.

Lex picked up his cell phone. "Maggie. Get me on the next flight back to Metropolis."

A quick call to Lois on the way in from the airport revealed Clark had not shown up for work that morning, a fact which did not seem to alarm Lois in the slightest.

"He's probably just on a lead," she said. "Why do you need him anyway?"

Lex hung up on her instead of wasting time coming up with a good lie. She would probably be infuriated at him,and Clark, but Lex wasn't particularly worried about Lois Lane's hurt feelings at the moment. He had other things on his mind.

He had his driver drop him about a block away from Clark's apartment so that the limo would not attract unwanted attention, and as he had the other evening, snuck in the back. It was dusk, and he took care to remain in the shadows. He was fairly certain no one saw him.

Warning bells started going off in his head when he tested the door and found it unlocked. Their volume increased when he slipped inside to find the place deserted, the bed made tidily, and obviously not slept in. There was no real reason to be alarmed, Lex thought, as he leafed through a stack of papers on Clark's desk. Superman might be off fighting crime somewhere, or rescuing someone from a natural disaster. Hadn't there been an earthquake somewhere recently?

The little place inside him, the one that had dragged him back from Europe and that still loved Clark despite his anger, and his threats, and his inhuman powers, had other ideas. Something was wrong. Lex could sense it in every breath he took. Clark wouldn't just vanish without a trace without telling someone where he was going. He wouldn't not call in to work. It just wasn't like him. Lex scowled. Despite Clark's threats, it wasn't like him to kill either. Someone else had offed Lex's men, someone who desperately did not want them following Lucas DunLeavy.

He threw the sheaf of papers down on the desk and sat down heavily in the chair. As ge sat staring at the mess he'd made, attempting to gather his thoughts, he saw the corner of a photograph sticking out from under the desk calendar. Lex reached for it, and pulled it out of its hiding place.

Years ago, when he'd been engaged to Helen Bryce, Lex had asked Clark to be his best man. The photograph from the rehearsal dinner, a night Lex remembered not because of the wedding itself, but because of the argument he and Clark had later. The marriage was for appearances only, and to produce an heir for Lex, who felt he needed one in case his father tried to pull something. He also thought Lionel would be pleased to have a grandchild. Lex wanted Clark to remain his lover. Their relationship was already secret, what difference would a marriage make?

Clark had balked at the idea, and they'd fought, only to make up later after Lex managed to negotiate a compromise. If Lex told Helen, and she agreed to look the other way, Clark would go along with the idea. Helen actually already knew about their affair anyway. Lex had been truthful about his affections for Clark from the very start of his relationship with her, but he simply hadn't told Clark. Thus, the compromise was quite easy for Lex to make, and Clark had been grateful for the concession.

Very grateful.

The picture was of them standing together, Clark giving Lex a wry look out of the corner of his eye, and Lex laughing. Lex's hand was on Clark's back. Closing his eyes, Lex could recall every detail of that moment; the warmth of Clark's body next to his, the strength of his shoulders beneath Lex's hand, and the scent of his cologne. He could also remember the post argument sex, and how he'd fallen to sleep on Clark's shoulder, relieved that he would not be losing him after all.

Lex opened his eyes.

The indicator light on Clark's answering machine told him there were three messages waiting. Lex reached across the desk and pressed the play button.

"Clark, you there? Pick up if you're there."

"Lucas." Lex growled.

There was a click as the phone was picked up, but the recorder kept going. Apparently the call had been late at night. Clark was in the bedroom on the extension. He sounded tired, and more than a little annoyed.

"What the fuck do you want, Lucas? And why are you back?"

"I need to talk to you. Clark, please. I need your help. Lex knows I'm here, he's trying to kill me."

"What makes you think that?"

"He's had some people following me, Clark please? I'm serious. Help me."

"You shouldn't have come back. I warned you...."

"Look, just hear me out, okay? Can I come over?"

There was a long pause, followed by a sigh.

"Yeah, come over. Just make sure you aren't followed, all right?"

"Sure, yeah. Give me directions."

Lex listened to the rest of the message, and the two following it. One was from Lois. The other was Chloe.

Clark? It's Chloe. Where are you? I'm starting to get worried. You never miss our Thursday night chat and Lois said you weren't at work. Call me A.S.A.P.

"He's got Clark." Lex murmured, then slammed his hand down hard on Clark's desk. "That son of a bitch!"

"Now, now. Is that any way to talk about your little brother?"

Startled by the voice, Lex whirled, rising quickly from the chair, knocking it to the floor. Lucas stood in the doorway holding a gun. He resembled a young Lionel more than ever, as his hair was beginning to grey at the temples, and his eyes glittered with a particular coldness with which Lex was all too familiar. The expression alone was enough to make him bolt for the bedroom, vaulting over the toppled chair and around the sofa, skidding slightly when his feet hit the kitchen floor. He didn't get far.

Lex heard the "thwick" of the gun discharging and something hot struck him in back of the right thigh, making him cry out in pain. The leg collapsed under him and he fell hard to the kitchen floor, the breath rushing from his lungs. As he lay there struggling to catch his breath he saw the photograph of himself and Clark lying on the floor in front of him. He reached out a hand toward it and managed to tuck it into his coat pocket before he rolled over to look up at Lucas. His right trouser leg was already soaked in blood.

Lucas tut-tutted at the sight."That's got to hurt." His lips parted in a grin. "Here, let me make it better, bro."

Before Lex could utter a word of protest, the butt of the gun caught him hard in the temple, and everything immediately went black.

Lex came around as he felt a sharp pain radiate down his right leg. A voice spoke close to his side, and a hand braced itself against his shoulder as the speaker rose to her feet.

"There. He won't bleed to death on you anytime soon."

"Good. We can't have him dying before he signs the papers."

He opened his eyes. There was a scrap of cloth, a tourniquet, tied around his thigh. A small, dark woman was stepping away from him to join two men standing on the opposite side of a small, dirty hotel room. It was a suite, as there was another door leading into another room behind the glowering trio. It must cost a whopping fifty dollars a night. Lex curled his lip and raised his head to focus blearily on the man standing closest to him.


"Comfortable?" Lucas chuckled. "Or as comfortable as one can be tied to a chair with a bullet in their leg." He patted Lex on the top of the head and knelt to look him in the face when Lex winced. "Sorry about the headache. Figured that was the best way to transport you without you doing something stupid."

"What...." Lex licked dry lips. "What do you want?"

"My inheritance." Lucas said, his expression feigning shock, as if he was surprised Lex would ask.

Lex snorted. "What inheritance? You got your inheritance. Dad left you a trust...."

"Well it's gone, and I want more."

"Why didn't you just fucking ask?" Lex jerked angrily at the ropes holding his arms bound behind his back, and hissed as his motion jostled his leg. "Damnit! I've been looking for you! You kept running away from me. I would have given you money...."

"I'm not your whore." Lucas said silkily. "I don't want your money. I want my money."

"What? What are you talking about?"

Lucas rose, and began walking back and forth in front of Lex's chair. Lex watched him warily. He still held the gun.

"You killed our father."

Lex sighed. Of course, here was another example of how that bad judgment call was going to bite him in the ass. "Yes, I had him killed. He was a dangerous man, Lucas."

Halting in his tracks, Lucas stared at him hard. "So am I, Lex."

"You don't understand...."

"I think, since you took the liberty of killing our father, you deserve to be punished, and I, the faithful son who waited patiently for the old bastard's demise, who put up with a lot of shit...." The word was shouted. "Deserve what's mine."

He held out a hand, and the woman came forward, giving him a folded sheath of papers which he held in front of Lex. "Recognize this? It's a copy of the last will and testament of one Alexander J. Luthor. It's exactly like the one I had stolen from your attorney last year, unbeknownst to him, of course. Dottering fool."

Lex's eyes widened. "What!?"

Lucas ignored him. "There is, however, one notable exception. Since you've failed to stay married to anyone long enough to produce an heir, and the woman named in the original document is now dead, I've added a new name as primary beneficiary. It will be dated a month after Miriam Luthor's death, and override any copy you may have elsewhere."

Lex cursed. He should have had his will changed immediately after Miriam died, but he'd neglected it.

"Let me guess," he grated. "The new beneficiary is Lucas DunLeavy."

"And you win the prize!" Lucas crowed. He brandished the document in front of Lex's face. "All it needs is your signature. I've already gotten someone to witness it, and Suz here is a notary, so we're all set."

"You're insane. I'm not signing anything."

"You'll sign it."

"Fuck you." Lex spat.

Lucas looked over his shoulder and jerked his head. The two men standing by the doorway to the next room moved, turning with military precision into the other room. Lucas glanced down at Lex and smiled.

"Oh, you're going to sign it."

The men returned single file. One held in his hands an irregularly shaped, grey rock about the size of a basketball that bristled with bright green crystals. The other was backing in, dragging an unconscious Clark by the arms. Clark was dressed in a pair of pajama bottoms and nothing else. His skin was tinged slightly green, and was covered in a thin sheen of sweat which had dampened his long hair so it clung to his face, yet he was shivering as they threw him to the floor. The first goon set the rock down next to him and Clark groaned.

Lucas cocked the gun and pointed at the center of Clark's back. His eyes met Lex's. "He's vulnerable like this you know, and a bullet through the heart will kill him just as easily as it would you or me." He snickered. "Yes, Lex. I read Dad's files too. I know all about Clark Kent and his little secret."

Lex's eyes darted toward Clark, who turned his head and looked up at him. He was conscious, but barely. Lex returned his gaze to Lucas.

"You lied to him. You convinced him I was trying to kill you."

"It wasn't hard. You aren't exactly his favorite person anymore, Lex. We shared a lot of information about you and your little games. Poor, gullible Clark, believes anything you tell him, and he's a real super fuck."

Lex turned scarlet. "You little shit!"

"Sign the papers Lex, and I'll let him go."

"You don't dare let him go. He'll kill you."

"No he won't." Lucas turned his hand, so that Lex could see it better where it was wrapped around the gun. "You see this? This is my insurance policy. It's a ring made out of those pretty green crystals. He can't get near me, and if he tries anything else, I'll make sure that bitch Lane gets a copy of Dad's file. Oh yes, I still have a copy, and I'm willing to share."

Breathing heavily, Lex looked at Clark again. Their eyes met, and Clark's lips moved.


"No." Lex said. "I'm not signing."

Lucas stared at him. Wordlessly he nodded to his two cronies, who dragged Clark to his feet and held him between them. Clark lifted his head to stare defiantly at Lucas. A trickle of sweat ran down each side of his face.

"Are you sure about that, Lex?" Lucas asked softly.

Lex opened his mouth, and Lucas pulled the trigger twice.


Clark jerked in the grip of his captors, who dropped him to the floor in a crumpled heap. He curled around himself moaning, blood seeping between his fingers where he pressed them to his stomach, and soaking into the rug. Lucas had buried two bullets in his gut.

"Now," Lucas stuck the gun through his belt and turned to crouch in front of Lex who sat staring at Clark in horror. "Here's the deal. If you sign this document, I swear to you I'll get him away from the Kryptonite and have those bullets taken out of him. He'll heal just like that." Snapping his fingers, Lucas grinned. "Everything will be hunky dory. Oh, except of course for the fact that you'll be dead."

Lex turned his head sharply. "And if I don't?"

"I let you sit there and watch him bleed to death, then I'll put a bullet in your bald head, and you two can be a happy little couple in the afterlife." He paused, and frowned. "But I forget. Men who kill their own fathers usually wind up in Hell, and I have no clue what kind of afterlife waits for a big, gay E.T."

The goon trio laughed as Lucas rose to his feet and patted Lex on the top of the head again.

"You sit there and think about it big bro, but don't think too long. Clark's bleeding pretty badly. We'll just be in the other room, and you can call me when you're ready to sign."

They filed out and shut the door behind them.

"He's insane." Clark whispered when they were gone. "Just like his mother."

Lex jerked his head around to look at him. "Clark...."

"Don't sign. Don't give him any power, Lex. He's too dangerous." Pain dulled eyes opened. "I swear to god if you sign those papers I'll never forgive you."

"You already hate me, so what. I'll be out of your hair."

Softly: "I don't hate you, Lex."

"I'm going to mean the death of you."

"I don't care."

"I care, damnit!"

"Don't sign it, Lex. Don't." Clark whispered. "He's worse than Lionel, don't put him in a position of power where he can hurt more people."

"You can stop him, Superman can stop him! Even if he's alive and has the Luthor fortune at his disposal, you can still stop him. You don't have to get near him physically...."

"And you think he doesn't know that?" With a gasp, Clark winced. "Ah, God. Lex." A tickle of blood ran from one corner of his mouth, and his eyes fluttered closed. "Don't...."

"Clark? Clark!"

A cold chill shot up Lex's spine as he saw the stain on the rug beneath Clark's body. It was huge, and growing larger by the second.

"Lucas!" Lex bellowed, jerking against the bonds holding him to the chair. "Lucas!"

The door opened. Lucas strode out with a smug expression on his face.

"Untie me. I'll sign. I'll sign. Just swear to me you'll take care of Clark. Swear, Lucas! Promise me."

Lucas nodded to the woman, Suz, who went behind Lex to untie his hands. He handed Lex the papers and a pen.

"Sure, Lex," he said soothingly as Lex frantically scribbled his name at the places indicated. "I'll make sure your little girlfriend lives."

Something in his tone made Lex pause. He looked up sharply, and saw his father's face, heard his father's voice, and relived all of Lionel's lies in that brief moment of time. But in Lucas' eyes he also saw the madness of Rachel DunLeavy. Lionel's lies, and Rachel's madness, combined within a young man poised to inherit billions of dollars in assets and a great deal of power.

Kryptonite ring or not, Superman would still be a dangerous enemy. Secret kept or secret revealed, Clark would still go after him. Lucas didn't dare let him live. Clark knew it too.

Lex's hand stopped in mid signature. He held Lucas' gaze.

Flipping the top page of the altered will face down, Lex rubbed it across his blood soaked thigh, ruining it. His voice was a low growl as he spoke.

"Go to Hell, Lucas. I'm not signing anything."

"Mother fucking bastard!!"

Lucas stepped back. Jerking the gun from his belt, he leveled it at Lex's face. Time seemed to slow down, and Lex watched in shocked fascination as Lucas' finger squeezed the trigger. He knew he was going to die, as Clark had known.


There was a sharp snapping sound, and Lucas' hand jerked sideways. The gun discharged less than an inch from Lex's right ear. Instinctively he threw himself backward, tipping the chair to the floor while all around him he heard shouting and screaming. His head struck the carpet with a dull thud, and pain burst through his skull from the earlier head injury. The noises around him faded to a muffled drone. His vision blurred, darkened, and returned blurry again.


Lex blinked. Gradually he became able to see and hear once more, and he was confused by the quiet all around him. It was enough to make him wonder if he had died after all, and was in some sort of purgatory, until he heard the footsteps. They crunched over broken glass, and stopped nearby. Lex heard a soft grunt and the return of the footsteps. He turned his head to look.

He saw black leather boots and the edge of a long, black cloak. As his eyes traveled upward, he found Clark cradled in the arms of a large, cowled figure. Clark's head lolled against a black leather breastplate, one limp hand dangled and blood ran down to drip from the ends of his fingers onto the carpet next to where Lex lay. The dark armor made his pale skin look ghastly white, bloodlessly white. It made him look dead.

"Death." Lex murmured.

A slight smile quirked into being beneath the cowl. "Not today."

Chloe answered the door, and did not invite him in right away.

"Your boyfriend gone?" Lex asked.

She frowned at him. "Yes, if you can call him that."

"You seemed pretty chummy to me."

"You know what, Lex. If I weren't chummy with Batman, you wouldn't be here right now."

"Point taken. Are you going to let me in? This 1970's hallway decor is making me nauseous."

Almost reluctantly she stood aside and Lex limped past her into Clark's living room. She shut the door and followed, watching him like a hawk. She hadn't changed much, he conceded, except for her hair color, and going from pale, honey-blond to platinum wasn't that much of a change. It didn't suit her though. Lex liked her better when she'd been younger. Of course he liked them all when they were younger. All of them seemed to smile more.

"How is he?" he asked.

"Sulky. He's not used to being an invalid. It makes him crabby." She raised an eyebrow at the flowers in his hand. "You brought him roses? Touching."

"No, I brought you roses. Despite your apparent belief to the contrary Ms. Sullivan, I'm well aware of your role in saving my life and I do appreciate it."

Chloe took the roses and inhaled their scent. "Sorry," she murmured, then narrowed her eyes slightly. "You're trying to butter me up into letting you see him."

"I didn't know you weren't going to let me see him." Lex replied quietly. "I'm assuming it's upon his request?"

There was some hesitation. Lex suspected Chloe simply didn't want to let him see Clark. What exactly she knew about Clark, about Lex, and about their relationship he had no clue. Obviously somewhere along the line she'd figured out Clark was leading a double life. He suspected she knew Batman's identity too.

"His physician doesn't want him getting up, nor getting too excited."

"Considering the state of our relationship at the moment, Chloe, I doubt I'm going to get Clark very excited."

He took a great deal of satisfaction out of her blush.

"That's not what I meant. Don't upset him, Lex."

"I won't," Lex said softly. "By the way," he added, as he moved toward the kitchen. "Who exactly is Superman's physician?"

Chloe paused in the act of pulling a vase out of a cupboard. She refused to meet his gaze. "I'm not at liberty to say."

"Sure. I understand." Lex turned away from her. Idly he also wondered who had cleaned up his blood from the floor.

Clark's bedroom door was shut. Before pushing it open, Lex knocked a little and as a result Clark was looking over at the door when Lex entered. His expression at first was wary, as if he were expecting Lucas to come barging in again, but as he identified his visitor he relaxed and put down the book he'd been reading. He still looked pale, and very tired, with dark circles beneath his eyes, but otherwise fully recovered.

"I brought roses," Lex said as he sat down at the foot of the bed, balancing on its edge with his good leg braced on the floor. "But I had to use them to bribe my way in here."

"Thanks." Clark said quietly. "I appreciate the gesture, and the sacrifice. I'm surprised she let you in at all." His lip quirked - not quite a smile. "Chloe's a good nurse, but rather overprotective." He hesitated, glancing down at his book, then up again. "I heard Lucas is in Arkham."

Lex nodded. "Your companion in spandex is keeping an eye on him."

"What about his cronies?"

"The girl got away. One guy never recovered from Batman's attack. The other I had tracked down."

"Is he dead?"


Clark pursed his lips, displeased, but Lex saw the relief in his eyes.

"I can keep your secret, Clark," he said softly. "You just never bothered to trust me. You never trusted me, or you wouldn't have believed all of Lucas' lies."

"I know," Clark sighed.

There was a long silence. Lex reached into his pocket and withdrew the photograph he'd found on Clark's desk. It was creased and bloodstained from their ordeal, but beneath it all they both continued to smile. He ran his thumb over the surface, just along the curve of Clark's shoulder.

"Sometimes I think Rachel wasn't the one who passed on her madness." Lex murmured. "It's a Luthor trait."

"You aren't mad, Lex."

"I was, or I wouldn't have made the mistakes that drove you away, made you hate me. He did this to me, Clark. He hounded me at every turn, criticized every move I made, crushed me and stripped me of every scrap of compassion I ever had, and I went crazy." His voice softened. "I was like an animal caught in a trap that chews off it's own leg to escape. I had him killed, and I set all this in motion."

"But you gained your freedom." It was a statement, uninflected, unaccusing.

"I sealed the fucking door!" Rising, Lex limped across the room to look out the window into the vacant lot. "You were right, Clark. I became my father. I am my father."

There was a rustling sound as Clark shifted upon the bed. "Your father wouldn't have brought me roses."

Lex glanced back over his shoulder, but he didn't reply.

"I've been angry at you for a long time, Lex." Clark said quietly. "I've been angry with myself for even longer. I'm not supposed to make mistakes. I'm not supposed to be vulnerable."

Lex turned around and came back to the bed. His leg was starting to throb painfully. His physician had told him to stay off his feet, and Lex didn't have a Chloe to make sure he did.

"You're holding yourself up to a standard you can't meet, Clark."

"That's what Jonathan always told me."

"Jonathan, not Dad?"

Clark pushed his hair back behind his ears, and picked at his nails, obviously uncomfortable with the conversation. "Being angry with you helped ease the pain of betrayal, of losing you. Telling myself Jonathan Kent wasn't my real father, makes the grief go away."

"You aren't a fucking robot, Clark. You can turn off your emotions. Jesus, is that what' you've been trying to do all this time?"

"I'm not one of you." Clark whispered. His eyes were unreadable, his expression carefully controlled. "Or at least I kept trying to tell myself that, despite the fact that Da-Jonathan, always told me I could never escape the fact I was raised by and among humans."

"You are human, Clark."

Clark broke away from Lex's gaze, looking down at his lap where his hands lay folded. "No, I'm not." He didn't move, but Lex thought he saw the broad shoulders shiver. "What happened with Lucas - it was my fault. He'd read the files your father had on me. I didn't know where he found out though. I thought you'd finally figured out the truth, and you told him what I was, what I could do. I thought you gave away my secret, so I gave away yours."

His eyes rose, and met Lex's unwaveringly.

"He lied. All those files were destroyed when your father was killed. I did it myself. Lucas couldn't use the information against me, nobody would believe Clark Kent was Superman, not without solid proof, but I made it so he could go after you, by handing him your weakness."

"You," Lex whispered. "You're my weakness, and always have been."

Clark nodded. "He read all the letters you wrote me, begging me to forgive you. I told him everything, Lex. I betrayed you without conscience. What were you to me, after all, besides an annoyance? I was above the inconvenience of human emotions; no grief, love, sorrow, or joy. I went away from Lucas feeling purged, like I'd finally rid myself of your memory, like I was free to go on with my life. I found out I was wrong."

"What happened?"

Closing his eyes, Clark sighed deeply, and when he opened them again they were a beautiful, vivid green, glistening with unshed tears. "You broke into my apartment and told me you still loved me."

"Clark...." Lex reached for his shoulder but he flinched away.

"I hated myself. I hated myself because all the feelings I had when I was a kid came back, just like it was yesterday. Everything came back when I heard your footsteps. I woke from a dream thinking I was back home, in Smallville, waiting for you to come to me and I felt so much joy at that moment I knew...." He swallowed heavily, and his voice became rough. "I'm not free at all, and I never have been."

Lex sat down on the edge of the bed, but did not attempt to touch again. Clark's flinch had reminded him of himself, after his mother died, when he felt her memory anytime anyone tried to touch him. She'd been fond of touching, cuddling, hugging, and Lex missed such displays of affection. Touching he equated with her memory, and thus, the pain of her loss. They were so alike, he and Clark, each trying to find themselves in a tangled mass of conflicting emotions, painful memories, and uncertain futures. Lex, at least, didn't have to deal with the added trouble of not being human, but there were often days he too felt inhuman.

He put the photograph down on Clark's thigh. "I found this when I came here looking for you."

Clark didn't immediately look at the picture, but instead furrowed his brow. "You came looking for me? But I thought...."

"I don't know why Lucas came back, maybe to erase the answering machine message I heard, but he found me here. I walked right into a trap he hadn't even set."

"God," Clark murmured. "That's how Batman found us. Chloe sent him here and he must have been watching when you broke in again. If you hadn't...."

"I'd prefer not to speculate." Lex interrupted quietly.

Clark picked up the photograph. He fingered the bloodstains along its edges.

Lex watched him, admiring him, wanting him. "I've never felt whole without you," he said. "I want us to start over."

"There are no do-overs." Clark murmured. He shook his head. "I can't, Lex. I have too many responsibilities. You'd be a liability, a distraction."

"Fuck that! Don't go pretentious on me now, not when you've just admitted you feel the same way I do. I'm not going to let you keep torturing yourself just because you think you should. You aren't invincible, Lucas proved that for God's sake. You are the last of your kind. If your people would find you flawed, so what? There is no one looking over your shoulder, Clark. You're making the rules here - you." Lex suddenly caught his breath. "And so am I," he concluded softly.

All the obstacles that had once come between them were now gone, Lex realized. Lionel, Jonathan, Clark's youth, Lex's insecurity. Lex did as he pleased, lived as he pleased, and Clark no longer lived his life trying to figure out his place in the world.

Clark was Superman.


Superman, not Clark.

"You're thinking like Superman," Lex muttered.

Clark started at him, confused, then smiled wryly. "Despite Chloe's concerns to the contrary, I'm not suffering from MPS, so there is no other way for me to think."

"But the general public doesn't know 'Clark Kent' and Superman are the same person."

"No." Eyes narrowing, Clark's smile turned into frown. "I know that look, Lex. What are you thinking?"

"I'm thinking," Lex said quietly. "That the key to stopping fate and changing destiny is in our hands. I need you to teach me how to trust again, Clark, and I make you human."

It was a moment before Clark replied. "Lex, I can't...."

"No. Superman can't." Lex insisted. "Look, Clark, Lucas tried to use you against me. Sure, the circumstances were different because he knew your weaknesses, but it's always possible anyone close to me can be used in the same manner. The only way I can feel comfortable putting anyone in such a position is for that person to be able to protect themselves. You can protect yourself."

"But I would always be trying to protect you."

"Why, Clark? If I were having an affair with a nobody reporter from Kansas, how would that put me in danger? Of course the Tabloids would have a field day...." He spread his hands in the air as he envisioned the headline. "Gay Billionaire Found in Compromising Position with Daily Planet Reporter."

Clark laughed.

"Lois Lane quoted as saying - 'but, but he's so bland!' "

"All right, all right. I get the point."

"No more sneaking around afraid your dad will fill my ass with buckshot. No more lying to the women in our lives - 'Oh, no Lana, you don't smell Lex's cologne on my collar. We weren't screwing in the back of the Mercedes just now....' "

Still laughing, Clark put a hand over his stomach. "Stop!"

Lex stopped, and they looked into each other's eyes. Clark's flickered down to the photograph in his hand, then up again.

"You always could make me laugh." he said. "And back then I didn't have much to laugh about."

"We'll start over, Clark. We'll start slowly, and rebuild what we had." Lex held out a hand. "It started with friendship."

Clark stared at his outstretched hand, and for what to Lex felt like an eternity, he did not move nor speak. Lex watched him carefully, trying to read what might be going on in his mind, and as each second ticked past he began to be afraid Clark would reject his offer for the last time. If he did, Lex would not make another attempt at reconciliation, ever. He could not come begging again.

"Please...." he whispered.

Clark's hand was very warm and larger than Lex remembered. It was much stronger than he remembered. It wrapped itself around his hand and pulled him forward, while its mate slipped around his waist and steadied him. In his chest his heart beat almost painfully when Clark's lips brushed his forehead.

Lois had called that morning. She was seething. It tipped Lex off that his gift had arrived. Clark never could resist chocolate, nor sharing. Lois probably got half of it.

"You are a slimy bastard," she'd growled.

"Lois? Lois Lane? Is that you?" He leaned back in his chair.

"Don't play with me, Lex. I know what you've been up to, and I'll tell you this: Clark annoys the piss out of me, but he's a good kid. You break his heart and I'll kick your ass."

Lex heard Clark whine a protest in the background.

"Take a number, Lane. I've already received the same warning from your little cousin and her big, broody bat-buddy."

"Well just make sure you remember it."

He remembered it, and planned on taking their advice.

It was pre-pre-dawn, in the stillest part of the night, and Lex lay dozing in the blue glow from the streetlight outside Clark's window. He'd broken in again, picking the lock and slipping in not long after Superman left for his appointed rounds. He couldn't sleep for the noise outside; shouts, the occasional gunshot. It was an improving neighborhood, but it still had its bad elements, and he supposed it always would. Clark had researched the old shoe factory and discovered it had once been a front for a bootlegging operation. There were, he said, still crates of hootch buried in the sub-basement.

"You should have been an archeologist, Clark, not a journalist."

"Where's the fun of archeology when you can just see what's there without digging it up? The thrill is in the hunt, and the gradual uncovering of what has been hidden for millions of years. X-ray vision takes all the excitement out of it."

"I always thought you were part bloodhound. Whenever I lost anything you never failed to find it."

"I drove you crazy didn't I?"

"Yeah, but like archeology, the thrill was in the hunt." Lex laughed.

"And now that the mystery is solved?"

Lex had leaned over and kissed him. "Now I get to sit back and simply admire my find."

A soft sound interrupted his reverie, and with a start Lex realized he'd fallen asleep for a brief moment. He wanted to be awake when Clark returned. Yawning, he rolled over, and looked up toward the ceiling.

Hovering a good four feet above the bed was a familiar figure.

"We really should do something about your inability to stop breaking into my apartment."

"And you need to stop sneaking up on me." Lex murmured, smiling slightly. "Rough night?"

"No more than usual."

Turning in mid air as if he were floating in a pool of water, Clark twisted and rolled, removing the cape from around his shoulders. It drifted down over the bed like a large, red autumn leaf, settling over Lex like an extra blanket. Lex drew it toward his face and inhaled the scent of the city in its folds. It was nothing like the fresh air of the countryside, but then Superman didn't belong in the country, Clark did.

For Lex it was like watching a caterpillar turn into a butterfly in a mid-air, slow motion dance. Twisting and weaving, Clark performed an aeronautical strip tease, shedding his alien skin and tossing it to the floor around the bed. The boots thudded upon the rug one after another as Clark doubled himself over to remove them. He turned a summersault, running his hands through his hair, which slowly faded from black to chestnut and from straight to soft curls. In the darkness it was difficult to see, but Lex's mind filled in the blanks. Arctic blue eyes warmed to the green-gold of a Kansas countryside, to the eyes of the boy from Smallville.

With a sigh, Clark drifted down to the bed, and Lex threw back the covers to admit him. His body was warm. His kisses were gentle.

Bodies shifted, realigned, and Clark curled around him as if he were the cape and Lex the super being who wore it. Lex felt his breath against the delicate skin between ear and shoulder, and he shivered.


"Not too tired." Lex whispered. "Never too tired for you."

Clark moved away briefly. Lex heard the bedside table drawer open, then close. "I can't believe you sent me chocolate."

"I had to stake my claim."

"Lois was mortified and I think you gave Perry a coronary. I didn't just come out of the closet, I was shoved."

"I hope you warned your mother."

Lex felt Clark's hand run down the inside of his thigh and moved the leg forward, allowing access to more sensitive areas. He'd almost forgotten how skilled and how soft Clark's hands were. Having them touch his body so intimately again was better than any drug he'd ever taken, and brought to him more joy than he'd ever felt before. He turned his head to capture a kiss, wrapping one arm around Clark's neck, tangling his fingers in the thick dark waves of Clark's hair.

Clark pulled away from the kiss slightly breathless. "Yes. She's not sure quite what to feel about it."

"Should I send her chocolate?"

"What's with the bribery? Did you always do that, or is this a new thing?"

"I've always tried to be accommodating."

"Have you?" Clark chuckled. "How accommodating are you feeling right now?"

"Hmm." Lex closed his eyes as Clark's fingers eased down his spine and between his buttocks. He felt the cool touch of a gel slicked finger, then the penetration of the same. "For you, very."

Clark kissed his neck. "That is good to hear," he murmured, and continued his careful preparations.

This was, Lex thought, as the familiar heat of Clark's cock entered him, a place where he'd longed to be for many years. There had been other lovers for both of them, but Lex never felt he quite "fit" well with anyone else. He refused to surrender control to anyone else, never allowing them to breech either his emotional nor his physical defenses. There were lines he did not allow others to cross.

Clark crossed the lines, and Clark fit him. When Clark curled around him and held him close, his quickening breath tickling the back of Lex's neck, Lex felt right. He felt whole. Instead of two separate entities with two bodies and two minds, they were one, with hearts beating in rhythm and their thoughts only for each other. No outside forces crowded them, forced them apart, confused and muddied their emotions. Everything was pure and clean and perfect.

Lex could surrender. He did surrender. Years before he had seen small glimpses of the man Clark would become, short demonstrations of a maturity far beyond his chronological age. Lex loved that Clark, because that Clark allowed him to let go of all his fear and he knew he would be safe. He was even safer now. He let go, allowing Clark's hands to roam where they would, Clark's sex to enter him, Clark's teeth to sink into the flesh of his shoulder.

It was a slow build toward climax, wherein the poised-upon-the-edge feeling, the feeling that one never wanted to end as much as one needed it to end, seemed to last forever. Clark rocked them both with a patience Lex could have never known. His strength and control was nothing short of phenomenal as he filled Lex completely, then slowly withdrew. Clark made fucking an art form. It seemed almost serene, filled with a heart-felt passion nothing could have masked. The frantic urgency, borne from their fear of discovery, that had marked their encounters of old, was gone. There was only a quiet desperation, a leisurely ride toward fulfillment. Sexual communication gained clarity.

Lex came with Clark's name on his lips. His body quivered within and without as he was taken over the edge into oblivion. He clutched at Clark's wrist, guiding his hand from cock to breast, locking his fingers around those strong enough to leave their mark upon steel. They could have crushed his hand when they closed around it. Lex raised them to his lips and kissed them, tasting himself there, sucking them greedily. It made Clark groan. It made Clark come. Lex felt his pace quicken, and then he was shuddering, filling Lex with the unnatural heat of alien seed.

They were in no hurry to part. Clark lay spooned against him, still inside him, and Lex squeezed his hand, tightening his grip so hard any other man would have protested. He did not want to let go, lest he wake and it all be a dream.

"Thank you," he whispered.

Clark cleared his throat. His voice was still low, sex sated and weary. "For what?"

"Coming home."

Slowly, Clark reached down and pulled the red cape up around their shoulders. He pulled Lex close, and kissed him gently.

"It's good to be home."